Spotlight On… Sarah Pinborough

It seems far too long since an author was put under the spotlight. With some fantastic novels to her name as well as career progression in screen writing, Sarah Pinborough seemed the obvious choice to approach.

So, without further ado…

Obvious question, but what drew you to writing? Were you inspired to follow this career from a young age?

I don’t think writers are really drawn to writing as such. Storytellers are just born that way and will find ways to tell stories, whether as novelists, screenwriters or directors etc. I don’t really think that storytellers have a choice – even if it always remains a hobby rather than a career. I did write stories from a very young age and then wrote school plays and that sort of thing, but only when it was about thirty did I start taking it seriously as a potential career.

Has your preference of genre as a writer changed over the years?

I started out writing straight horror novels for the first few years of my career, primarily because I’d loved Stephen King and James Herbert novels when I was growing up. I quickly found the genre restrictive and I’ve been quite ‘genre fluid’ since then. I’ve written historical fiction with a dash of horror, dystopian romance, YA fantasy, thrillers, a sci-fi dystopian crime trilogy re-telling Paradise Lost, and also I’ve retold fairy tales in a dark and sexy way. There’s probably more too! At the moment I’m very much into writing thrillers.

Who inspires you as a writer? Do you feel any authors influence your work in any way?

Any book I read and love inspires me and influences me in lots of ways – reminding my why I love stories is always up there. It’s hard to make a list because you tend to only reference the books you grew up loving rather than more recent discoveries – like talking about albums rather than singles (giving my age away there!) and I’ve stopped doing it because I give out the same names over and over, and actually forget to mention the newer books I’ve read and loved that have left me energised to work and raise my game.

Where does the inspiration for your work come from?

Everywhere and anywhere. As you write more you learn to look for stories in things and then jotted down half-ideas begin to mesh together to form a whole new idea that you weren’t expecting. Like most people I save online news pages that get my interest into folders on my computer and then scroll through them. Sometimes an idea just arrives – normally in the middle of the night.

You’ve written for New Tricks and you’re progressing your career in the direction of film and television, so how does that compare to writing novels and novellas and is the transition an easy one?

It’s a completely different skill set and way of story telling and one I respect more and more the longer I work in the TV/Filmworld. Structure is far more important in screenwriting and there is no space for any ‘flabbiness’ like you can have in a book. Every scene has to move the story forward in some way and of course there’s no internal monologues! Also, it’s far more collaborative in that even before you start on the script, you’ve had a lot of people’s input into the treatment, especially in TV. In film odds are on you’re writing your initial script on spec and then once you’ve sold that you get the other opinions, like script editors, producers etc. I really enjoy it though and I like the learning curve. It’s a hard business to get into though. I would probably advice a writer trying to break into television to write a spec pilot episode or film of their idea before even approaching agents or producers.

I particularly enjoyed Death House, how long ago did that story idea formulate and was it always destined to be a full length novel?

Thank you! The idea for the book came from a short story I’d written a few years ago called Snow Angels which was a supernatural story but had some of the same characters (although with different names) and a similar set up – sick children in a strange futuristic boarding house. Once I’d finished the story I knew I’d want to revisit those kids again and so when I had a chance and space in my schedule, I did. I tend to only write short stories these days if they can be a playground for a novel. I’m not a natural short story writer.

Can you tell me anything about Behind Her Eyes? Is there a launch date, yet?

I’m very excited about Behind Her Eyes. It’s out in February (ish) 2017 in both the UK and the US and we’ve sold it to nearly 20 territories worldwide thus far. It’s a thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and Girl on a Train in that it’s domestic and doesn’t have any police involvement etc, and it does have some slight supernatural moments. I’m really proud of it. It’s about obsessions and addictions really.

 Any particular ambitions for the future?

Oh, there are always new ambitions! I’d like to write more TV and film stuff – and see more of it made. To see a book on the bestsellers lists – a writer’s usual ambitions!

Favourite Things (give me your first reaction to these questions):

Favourite television programme?

Too many to mention…

Favourite actor and/or actress?

Michael Caine/Marilyn Monroe

Favourite time of year?


Favourite place to write?


Favourite way to spend your time off?

Watching movies and thinking about writing.

Sarah’s website link is here:








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